When I was 13, I went to stay with my cousins on the mainland for the holiday, each time I managed to go out on a weekend I would be greeted by a loud music playing from streets away most times that streets would end up blocked cos of the party and 7 times out of 10 a fight breaks out due to insufficient rice or weird reasons. The other part of the street were boys and girls by the street corner drinking, laughing, dancing, smoking and sometimes fighting.
I saw all these things from afar and one thing was certain the noise’s unending on this other side of Lagos, At times I’d catch glimpses of these boys and girls taking turns singing in the Yoruba dialect singing about Lagos and when they sang, they sang about Lagos with authority, sang about the struggles making it in Lagos, the excitement of life, They were clearly the life of the party. I left my cousin’s place when school resumed with a keen interest to return.
Mo Believe grew up in Lagos and classifies himself as the ‘cul’ in culture and his genre as Urban Folklore, taking advantage of social media, Mo released the tracklist breakdown of his debut project through series of tweets.
Instead of a big single, Mo took advantage of social media and released a breakdown of his debut project through a series of tweets.
I applaud his effort. In an era where projects are falling on top of each other, MO found a way to create interest and hype for his project by crossing the music with the process. Drawing inspiration from the streets of Lagos and fusing it with familiar folk sounds (Fuji, juju), Mo’s finally ready to tell his version of events.
The project opens up with a spoken word from a lady sharing a tale about Lagos, Lagos noise is playing in the background, insults and bus conductors yelling ‘Obalende’ as traffic hour approaches. MO is sticking to the script. As the project unfolds, Bi oba executed completely in Yoruba dialect brings about a nostalgia feeling of tales by moonlight stories told by the old men and women to little children.
If you’ve witnessed a Lagos island or mainland Yoruba party then Jolly Jolly will resonate well with you, the Friday chilling theme in the rural and some urban areas in Lagos, Temi Ye Mi is an ode to the lady in the white dress. MO executes a flattery hook that makes Mary not so bad after all but by Jide he channels the inner concerned parent, a message urging the child to stay away from peer pressure.
By Palm wine, the child succumbs to the peer pressure and lives the young, wild and free theme.
MO has an eye for telling stories, using poverty as an example, he tells a story about Lagos, the city he grew into, the struggles of the middle age classes. There’s a distinct honesty to his musical narrative of Lagos, its almost like he is still living the life he sings of.
“People mind e close pass toilet, and eyes no dey see pass nose, nose dey fit smell deceit”
There’s so much life in this project that you as a listener will feel like you experienced it in real time. Even when you do not understand what he’s saying, you’re certain to have an idea of the message he is passing across and that’s what makes it more authentic, the Lagos struggles of not understanding a language but being able to get an idea of the conversation.
I always yearned to hear stories about Lagos from a different perspective and wondered if someone would tell a story that summarized a city filled with chaos from the angry passengers to the rude drivers and conductors of ‘laive’, all adding to the energy that exudes out of Lagos.
Ariwo Eko shows MO’s version of events in Lagos and his attributes. His ideas and production are strong and aligned in an interesting manner, for someone in his early 20s MO takes on a big role on this project and delivers
If you’re looking for something that’s in line with the new Lagos sound, you won’t find it here, if you are looking for something to party to, you will find little of it here, but if you’ve aligned with the city and its beautiful mess then Ariwo Eko will resonate with you.
Mo’s Debut Project is an intriguing element for Mo’s Artistry, he has room for improvement but here’s to a solid project and to his fascinating journey becoming an artist.